The indictment was prepared by civilian prosecutors and was accepted by the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court on Monday. Sledgehammer is the most recently exposed document, which allegedly mentioned a Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) plan that aimed to create an atmosphere of chaos in the country through a series of acts of violence that would eventually lead to a military coup. The plan became known in late January after it made its way into a Turkish daily.
The subversive plan is believed to have been prepared by retired Gen. Çetin Doğan. The general was arrested twice earlier this year but was later released from prison for reasons of health.
In the indictment prosecutors suggested that a junta within the armed forces -- led by Doğan -- would try to instigate chaos through bomb attacks on popular historic mosques in İstanbul, which would hopefully lead to a military takeover. The coup would mainly be based in and around İstanbul. The coup plotters planned to “make use of” the police force and soldiers to facilitate the staging of the coup. Police officers and soldiers would be used to establish special security teams, which would be deployed in various Turkish provinces for security reasons.
The junta planned to detain and then arrest at least 200,000 individuals on charges of reactionary activities in İstanbul after the coup, according to the Sledgehammer indictment. Individuals who stood up against the coup were to be taken into custody and brought to large sports facilities for interrogation. The suspects would be questioned by security forces there and then sent to prison. If the prisons were unable to accommodate all the arrestees, military barracks would temporarily be turned into jails.
Retired Gen. Çetin Doğan was arrested twice earlier this year on coup charges -- he stands accused of penning the Sledgehammer document -- but was later released from prison for reasons of health.
Coup planners also hoped to expel 2,380 students -- both leftists and rightists -- from their universities, a move very similar to what happened to hundreds of university students after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d’état.
The Sledgehammer indictment indicts 196 suspects, all retired and active duty members of the military. The main suspect is Doğan. The suspects are accused of a failed attempt to destroy Parliament and overthrow the government. The charge calls for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The indictment also exposes a subversive junta plan to urge cooperation with extreme left and terrorist groups to facilitate the staging of the coup. Those groups would strike big Turkish cities with bomb attacks and work to foment chaos in society, which would lay the groundwork for and later justify the takeover of the country by the armed forces. In the plan, many people were listed by name. Next to the names was a (+) plus or a (-) minus, in accordance with the individuals’ potential to cooperate with the planned coup.
In addition, the indictment features the remarks of Doğan, who advised his staff to appoint TSK-friendly figures to critical positions after the Sledgehammer coup. He said the armed forces should not repeat the “mistake” of the 1980 coup when coup plotters failed to appoint their “own men” to high posts in state institutions. “There were deficiencies in the appointments of armed forces staff to critical posts and, thus, the military had difficulty managing and directing civilian institutions. We should not repeat this mistake,” he is quoted as saying in the document.